Hisham Matar, a Libyan living in the UK, speaks about his experience as a writer and his first novel In the Country of Men (Viking, July 2006). "I would have liked to write a book that had nothing to do with politics," he says. "I think ultimately I am a sensualist and an aesthete. I'm not really interested in politics, but politics was part of the canvas. I had to say something about it, otherwise all the different forces that are shaping these characters would be abstract," said Matar.